Let’s all murmur, “Good day old chap!” to Mark Newell, the stylish gent pictured above.*
Mark is the co-owner and operator of Toronto’s first bohemian tea house, board game room and hookah lounge called Bampot.
Our eagle-eyed Google search engine alerted us to Bampot when we heard two words: Poutine Soup. “We have transformed this classic French-Canadian dish to make it just as hearty but not as heavy — and it’s even better than it sounds! Our delicately spiced broth, reminiscent of a really good gravy, is poured over oven-roasted potatoes and locally produced cheese curds to create a dish you’ll keep coming back for.”
The website also mentions that all of the food at Bampot is vegetarian, much of it is vegan, and there are plenty of gluten-free options on offer as well.
So, how could we resist finding out more about this enterprising Brit? We contacted him, sent a few questions and in two puffs on your dad’s pipe, had these answers …
What made you decide to choose Toronto as a city of choice? Did you plan a permanent move, or wanted to “try it for a while and see how it goes” and it turned out to be longer than planned?
My partner and I had aspirations of starting a tea shop. The economy back in Scotland is awful and felt it would have been too difficult; always wanted to go to Canada! Decided I would travel across this fine country in a 1984 Westfalia, starting in Halifax — but the damn thing broke down so often I only made it as far as Toronto.
So it chose me in a way. Decided to set up shop here. You are the place. The place is not you.
What steps did you take to land your first Toronto job? Did the infamous “Canadian experience” hinder you in any way?
I did not want to work for anyone else, so started my own business, build it and now operate the job that I love.
What’s the best/worst aspects of living in Toronto?
Winter in this city is awful. Total buzzkill.
Summer in this city however … It brings out the best in the place and the people.
Do you make an effort to connect with other Brits in the city, or just meet them when chance allows it? Any recommended pubs/eateries/other places for homesick Brits to meet each other and network?
I go to The Caledonian at least once a month to get my haggis and banter fix and hear the Scots brogue. Also a lot of Scottish, Irish and English come to my place (it’s a bit of a joke around here).
Open question/comment: feel free to write anything here/advice/tips on a Brit living in, or moving to, Toronto.
If you’re looking for banter, come find me! I’ve been missing it!
*Disclaimer: Brits in Toronto has no idea if the photos people send us accurately portray them or are simply swiped from the Internet as a dare. We are not legally liable for your utter disappointment if you bump into a pipe-smoking, foppish-haired male model in a Toronto street and they have no idea what you are talking about when you start inquiring about how much they charge for hookahs.